The New York Times’ Lens Blog just published a beautiful two-part series with journalist and filmmaker Sheila Turner-Seed interviewing Henri Cartier-Bresson in his Paris studio in 1971. The interview was only discovered in 2011. Not much to add. You have to read the whole thing for yourself. Straight-forward answers of a blessed photographer who never really liked to talk about photography.
Most worthwhile quotes:
You have to respect your limitations.
Photography as I conceive it, well, it’s a drawing — immediate sketch done with intuition and you can’t correct it. If you have to correct it, it’s the next picture. But life is very fluid. Well, sometimes the pictures disappear and there’s nothing you can do. You can’t tell the person, “Oh, please smile again. Do that gesture again.” Life is once, forever.
And HCB on pre-digital photography consumerism and elitism:
There are necessities of life, and everything is getting more expensive in a consumer society. So the danger is that photography might become very precious — “Oh, a very rare print.” There’s not a very real place for it. But what does it mean? That preciousness is a sickness.
Why do photographers start giving numbers to their prints? It’s absurd. What do you do when the 20th print has been done? Do you swallow the negative? Do you shoot yourself? It’s the gimmick of money.